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Key improvements to London City Airport’s airfield infrastructure has been completed. The scheme behind the work is the City Airport Development Programme and includes a new parallel taxiway and new stands capable of handling larger aircraft.

The scheme has also provided a new digital air traffic control tower, a world first for an airport this size, and improved passenger experience with new e-gates and outbound baggage facility.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive said “The completion of this vital new airfield infrastructure is a major milestone for the airport and will help us to return to growth, welcome new airlines and aircraft and once again connect London to the rest of the UK and to the world”.

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In 2018 a proposal was submitted to modernise and expand Gatwick Airport Station by widening the concourse and improving connections to the airport terminal. This work began in November 2020 as part of a 5 year £1.1b scheme to improve all of Gatwick Airport and is expected to be complete in 2023. This redevelopment is aiming to improve passenger experience across the board when it comes to travel via Gatwick.

RTM’s Editorial Lead Ailsa Cowen spoke to Stephen MacCallaugh, Gatwick Express General Manager, and Catriona Taylor, Scheme Project Manager, to find out where the project is up to and how the future is looking. You can read the full interview here.

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The 9km phase-1 extension line from Washermenpet to Wimco Nagar is likely to open for commercial operations in the first half of February after a month long trial run. Commuters will be able to travel from Wimco Nagar to the Airport in a single 60 minute train ride.

Last week an official from Chennai Metro Rail Ltd said “We had been testing since December and the final test was done on January 18 and 19. A report has been sent to the Germany-based company which developed the signal software and which will certify that the signalling is ready for operations based on the report,”.

Before the line is ready for opening before the middle of February, an inspection by the commissioner of railway safety may take place.

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Last year our members started sending us their thoughts and actions during the initial weeks of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This exercise proved insightful into how the industry was coping with issues caused by lockdowns & quarantines. Over the last few weeks, we ran another questionnaire to find out how things have changed in the last 6 months. Below are the results.

Have normal services resumed or are revised timetables still in place? How are you managing staff patterns and rosters to fit this?

All but one response claimed to be operating on a revised and reduced schedule which is allowing the ability to have staff working fewer shifts while providing the same standard which passengers come to expect. The one response that has resumed a standard timetable is doing so via a skeleton crew to reduce unnecessary contact and mitigate risks.

What channels are you using to communicate with passengers and what is your current media strategy?

All respondents are using a combination of online and offline methods of communication and marketing. Be that social media or more tradition forms of media with a goal of boosting brand awareness and staying in the minds of potential customers for when regular service restarts.

What new technology is in place to assist customers in their travel avoiding touch points at stations or on trains etc?

The use of automated ticket machines is on the rise due to COVID-19 along with pushing for cashless sales via cards and Apple/Google Pay. Replacing many button activated doors with automatic ones and increasing cleaning intervals of remaining inevitable touch points.

Are you actively running COVID-19 testing schemes to allow passengers to travel?

The majority are not running tests.

What are the plans for the future to avoid crowded trains and stations going forward?

All responses to this question essentially fall into two categories, reducing passenger numbers or increasing service capacity. The first group will achieve this by holding a percentage of tickets back as a buffer and blocking off seats to provide adequate distancing between passengers. Whilst others will combat overcrowding by resorting back to a normal schedule and increasing frequency when necessary.

How are the revised cleaning protocols working, is this giving customers more confidence in travelling?

Whilst all cleaning protocols are working well and used in conjunction with frequent announcements about cleanliness are driving customer confidence up, many feel that the government calls against public travel are counteracting this confidence.

Do you still have supply chain issues and what is the plan to overcome these?

The majority are not having supply chain issues, those that are have no plans to overcome.

What are the main reasons and considerations in deciding to stop services completely?

N/A to any recipients.

What happens to the staff during this temporary suspension of service?

N/A for the majority. A combination of furlough and compulsory salary reductions for higher earners.

How long do you estimate it will take to recover to previous levels of ridership? What happens to the rolling stock during this period?

This is possibly the most diverse set of answers we have ever had signalling how difficult and unpredictable to current situation is. With estimates ranging from 1 month to 3+ years to return to 2019 levels of ridership it is safe to say that even with vaccines rolling out around the world; we are in this for the long haul.

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Etihad Airways have expanded its partnership with AccessRail allowing Etihad customers to book rail tickets with their air fare.

Customers will be able to use rail routes operated by many major European operators including Germany’s Deutsche Bahn, Great Western Railway from London Heathrow and SNCF from their Paris terminals.

This partnership aims to provide a convenient way for anyone in these countries serviced to have access to easy travel by combining all modes of transport into a single ticket and itinerary.

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Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) have added the Cornavin to Zurich Airport route to the ‘Airtrain’ services in offers in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Railways.

The idea behind the route is to continue providing a good connection between Western Switzerland and Zurich International given that SWISS have cut down on their Geneva – Zurich flights over COVID-19 concerns.

This is the third Airtrain service offered by SWISS following similar routes from Basel and Lugano.

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Honolulu’s airport rail line is nearly 5 months behind schedule due to a dispute between Hitachi Rail and Shimmick/Traylor/Granite.

The dispute is over who has caused a 4+ month delay on completion of 4 stations along the new route. Hitachi claim they are facing increased costs by not having access to the new stations while STG claim that Hitachi are responsible for the delays as the designs did not display where to install conduits and other equipment.

This is yet another delay in a project that has already faced delays in construction due to a contaminated water site in 2018, and a possible $40m delay in relocating utilities along Ualena Street.

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Work laying the track for the $1.3bn airport link from Forrestfield to Perth airport. Martinus Rail was awarded the contract to lay the track by WeBuild and NRW.

The track itself comes in 27.5m sections of which 8 are then welded together to form the final product to be installed. A total of 2400 tonnes of steel will be used to create 40km of track for each new tunnel.

With 1km of track already being laid since the completion of tunnelling earlier this year the project is on track to open in late 2021 with projections suggesting that the line will remove up to 15,000 vehicles a day off the road.

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Construction of DART's silver line is underway as seen with the delivery of 480m steel track. The silver line is "designed to provide a high-speed, reliable transit option for residents and commuters with connections to the existing and planned transit systems".

The line will provide service from Dallas's northeast suburbs of Plano, Richardson, and Addison to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Terminal B. Once at DFW airport commuters will connect to Fort Worth via TEXRail.

The project is expected to be complete in 2022 and cost $2bn.

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Tenders totaling RS1909 crore announced earlier this week covering the remaining sections of the Airport Metro Line. These tenders announced will cover a 17 metro stop length of track between K R Puram and the Kempegowda International Airport.

Another 3 tenders remain unannounced including 8 new elevated metro stops on 11kms of new line to Baiyappanahalli, 5 elevated metro stops on another new 11km track and a 15km track covering Bettahalasuru and Doddajala

The deadline of the Airport Line is mid-2025.

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Track for the 8km tunnels is starting to be laid for the Forrestfield-Airport link by METRONET. The first kilometre of track for the $1.86 billion project has been laid near Redcliffe Station, following the completion of tunnelling in April.

The link will deliver a new rail service to the eastern suburbs of Perth – with three new stations at Redcliffe, Airport Central and High Wycombe.

The line will spur off the existing Midland Line near Bayswater Station and run to High Wycombe through twin-bored tunnels using over 2400 tonnes of Australian made steel.

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Greater Anglia have entered their brand-new Stansted Express trains into passenger service between London Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport.

Built by Stadler, the new, longer Stansted Express trains have 767 seats – an increase of 83% over the old 8-carriage trains currently operating the services.

Technical project manager for Stadler, Leandro Haggenmacher, said: “The start of the roll-out of trains for the Stansted Express route is a significant landmark, as we enter the final stages of the project to supply 58 new trains for the Greater Anglia network. We are very pleased to have reached this point, recognising the important role Stansted Airport plays in the regional economy, boosting economic growth and supporting jobs.”

The new trains are part of a massive investment in new Stadler by Rock Rail East Anglia and will be leased to Greater Anglia.

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By Hywel Rees, CEO, Leeds Bradford Airport

(Published in the Yorkshire Evening Post 27/06/20)

There seem to be some misconceptions around access to Leeds Bradford Airport’s new terminal planning application and it is important that we are clear on the facts.

I have seen many claims that if approved our plans would result in additional traffic on the roads, but we are doing all we can to prevent this.

We are not proposing to extend our car parks, which means that there are only a limited amount of people who can feasibly drive to the airport, and we have created a new Travel Plan to maximise opportunities for sustainable travel which includes a restriction on any new car parking.

We have committed to a Sustainable Travel Fund of £4 million which will be used to fund a range of sustainable Travel Plan measures and public transport improvements, particularly the new rail link off Scotland Road.

One of these improvements is a new dedicated bus terminal at the front of the main entrance, with segregated access for buses.

As part of this venture, we are committed to enhancing and bettering these services, including increasing the daytime frequency of the bus routes, introducing a direct coach service between Leeds and Bradford interchanges and additional bus routes, and bringing new shuttle bus services to areas with large numbers of employees.

The bus terminal will be future proofed to allow for operations following delivery of the planned new rail station, which will be just under a mile away and provide the airport with increased connectivity with Leeds, Harrogate and the East Coast mainline.

As well as continuing to promote car sharing schemes for staff and passengers, a new, shared footway/cycle route between Whitehouse Lane and the terminal forecourt will be created.

Though it is clear there is a perception in Yorkshire that Leeds Bradford Airport is hard to get to, readers may be interested to know that Leeds Bradford Airport is reachable by nine per cent of the UK population within 1.5 hours, which is much higher than most other UK regional airports which significantly outperform Leeds Bradford Airport passenger numbers.

I’m confident that these enhancements to our surface access will only make LBA more accessible in efficient ways as we move towards a more sustainable future.

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Construction has begun on the Pudong section of the express Metro line which will connect the Shanghai’s two airports by 2024.

Launched two years ago, in late June workers began building Zhangjiang station for the express line along with two shield tunnels and other support structures. The two-story underground station covers approximately 71,000m2, while the two tunnels are 2.47km and 5.69km long. The station is expected to be completed by December 2023.

The 68.6km mainly-underground line will shorten the travel time between the two airports to less than 40 minutes. Currently the journey takes between 70 and 90 minutes with passengers using Metro line 2 and the Airport Maglev or an airport bus service.

The 160km/h-capable line express line will also benefit passengers travelling across the city, with nine stations across Xuhui and Minhang districts as well as the Pudong New Area,according to the city government.

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Former Australian premiers have called for an express rail link to Melbourne airport, warning that a slow, all-stations service will simply not attract passengers.

Jeff Kennett and Ted Baillieu told The Age newspaper on 30 June that high costs and a lack of demand had delayed airport rail links in recent decades, but that the time is now right to create such a link. Melbourne Airport opened 50 years ago this week, yet it is still without a dedicated rail link, leading to congestion and delays on the 11-lane Tullamarine Freeway.

The Victorian and federal governments have each committed AUD5bn towards a new fixed link, with the final alignment set to be confirmed shortly. It is understood that a new above-ground line between the airport and Sunshine is favoured, with services using existing tracks between the western hub and the city via the new Metro Tunnel. This proposal would render a competing AUD7bn design from IFM Investors to build a tunnel between the city and Sunshine, allowing express airport services on dedicated tracks.

Former Liberal premier Mr Kennett – who reserved land for a rail line through Broadmeadows while in power but prioritised the construction of CityLink – called for an express rail service from the city to the airport to ensure the service was competitive with road-based alternatives. “If people are going to use it in large volumes, you’ve got to get to and from the airport quickly,” he said. “There’s no point in stopping at one or several stations along the way; its self-defeating.”

Mr Baillieu – who promised to build rail links to Avalon and Tullamarine during his time in office – said, when asked why the project has been put off so long, that the “more direct” airport rail routes had always proven more costly. “It has been difficult to demonstrate the benefits in terms of speed and time for passengers and, secondly, it seems to be getting more expensive by the day,” he said.
“Commuters will judge this very quickly and very harshly," he added. “It will be judged on frequency, speed and cost to them – not to the taxpayer – and what happens at each end. That’ll be it.”

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London City Airport has released a new video that showcases the extra measures that have been added to the passenger experience, to protect their well-being and make everyone feel safe at the airport. 

The video focuses on how London City will offer safe, careful and speedy journeys as more domestic and European flights return, with Loganair, Eastern Airways, KLM and British Airways CityFlyer all scheduled to restart in July. 

The measures include:

  • An enhanced cleaning regime, including a the use of a long-life anti-microbial surface treatment Touch-free hand sanitiser stations
  • One-way systems
  • Perspex screens at key points of interaction, such as check-in desks
  • Clear signage and floor markings to help maintain social distancing
  • Crowd monitoring technology to identify and manage busy areas
  • Non-contact, automatic temperature checking technology for rapid preliminary screening
  • Staff using face masks or visors and gloves

London City Airport temporarily suspended commercial and private flights on 25 March 2020, in response to the escalating public health crisis and government lockdown measures. During the suspension, the aerodrome was made available to government agencies and the military to support the national effort to manage the pandemic.

Flights resumed on 21 June, with BA CityFlyer’s flight between the Isle of Man and central London being the first. New routes between central London and Teesside and Dundee begin on 6 July, operated by Eastern Airways and Loganair respectively. BA CityFlyer will resume flights to Ibiza, Florence, Málaga and Palma from 10 July and staples of London City Airport’s Anglo-Irish network will resume from 20 July, with BA CityFlyer resuming flights to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dublin. On 13 July, KLM will resume the airport’s most popular (by passenger numbers) route, between Amsterdam and London.

Alison FitzGerald, COO of London City Airport, said: “We want to reassure passengers that it is safe to travel and I hope this video allows them to understand the measures we have taken to protect their health and well-being. 

“We also hope to demonstrate that, despite additional safety measures, the uniquely important aspects of the customer experience at City have not changed. We will still be able offer the fastest airport experience in London and our staff will continue to welcome our customers in a warm, kind and respectful East London way.”

The video can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/L2e8EQHFnZY

Full information for passengers is available at www.londoncityairport.com/safe-careful-speedy-journeys

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A new survey conducted by Express Rail Link Sdn Bhd (ERL) indicates that Malaysians are raring to travel again, with 35% of respondents saying they are planning to travel as soon as the border controls are relaxed, with a further 26% saying they will travel within the next six months.

Cleanliness of the accommodation, venues and transport, personal health concerns and being in an enclosed space with other people are the main concerns of the 657 respondents, comprised of both Malaysians and expats living in Malaysia. Only 33% of those surveyed said they would be flying for business, with the others planning overseas and domestic holiday travel.

Noormah Mohd Noor, CEO of ERL, said: “Like other businesses in the travel and hospitality sector, our train ridership was greatly impacted during the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO). Despite lingering fears of catching the virus, domestic leisure travel will nevertheless be starting to take off in the coming months, with the government’s new initiatives on domestic tourism recovery.

“ERL will continue with our value packages, and work with partners to offer promotional fares in order to attract passengers. From our recent survey, 64% of Malaysians and expats would welcome a promotional offer as an incentive to plan their holiday and business travel.

“Early this year, we partnered with TNG Digital to offer a 15% discount on selected KLIA Ekspres and KLIA Transit tickets bought using the Touch ‘n Go eWallet, from 1 January to 30 June 2020. As the fastest airport transfer in town, this partnership fits our mission to provide fast, convenient and more affordable service to our customers. Hence, we are truly delighted that TNG Digital has agreed on the extension of this promotion until 31 December 2020.”

Ignatius Ong, CEO of TNG Digital Sdn Bhd said, “We are very encouraged when partners share a similar vision for a truly cashless nation. With many adopting the practice of minimising the handling of physical cash, the Touch ‘n Go eWallet becomes a seamless travel companion in this new way of travel by being a convenient mode of payment.”

Customers can enjoy the 15% discount when they buy the following tickets using Touch ‘n Go eWallet at the ticket counter:

  • KLIA Ekspres Standard Single and Return (Adult/Child)
  • KLIA Transit Standard Single and Return (Adult/Child)
  • KLIA Transit Concession Fares for: Malaysian Senior Citizens aged 55 and above,
  • disabled holding the OKU card issued from the Department of Social Welfare Malaysia and students with KADS1M

For more details, please visit http://www.kliaekspres.com/touch-n-go-ewallet-deal

KLIA Ekspres and KLIA Transit are currently being operated as a combined daily service from 06.00 to 23.10 every day. The schedule will be reviewed periodically and adjusted accordingly to suit the growing passenger ridership. Any passenger whose body temperature is 37.5°C or higher will be denied entry. All passengers must wear a mask at all times when using the train; those refusing to wear one will not be allowed to board.

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TECHNOLOGY: Airports and railway operators worldwide are ramping up their programmes to introduce contactless technology to help them re-open safely and maximise passenger numbers during the coronavirus pandemic.

While transport operators were increasingly adopting touchless and automated technologies before the pandemic to increase speed and efficiency, demand for these tools is increasing as routes reopen. Prioritising investments amidst a collapse in revenues will be key, however, as employers seek to cut costs and boost productivity against projected year-on-year losses of almost USD100bn for the sector.

Eurostar confirmed on 17 June that it will adopt facial recognition technology from 2021 as an alternative for passengers who want to check in without the physical transfer of passports. The technology, from biometric authentication specialist iProov, will scan a passenger’s face on arrival at a rail station to match it to a photograph provided via a smartphone in advance of the trip.

Abu Dhabi Airports is introducing touchless elevator technology for 53 elevators at Abu Dhabi International Airport, while at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, all the airport restaurants are adopting the Grab  digital ordering service to cut down on face-to-face encounters. Grab debuted its ‘virtual kiosk’ in April, a system that lets customers scan a QR code or use NFC-enabled smartphones to place an order without the need to download Grab’s app.

Another way to reduce face-to-face interactions is to replace workers for initial screenings. It is reported that South Korea’s Incheon International Airport intends to trial the use of robots to tell if passengers are wearing masks and flag those who aren’t to authorities later this year.

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UNITED KINGDOM: Proposals for a new GBP820m link between East Midlands Airport and the Midland Mainline by 2040 are key elements of a GBP2.7bn programme to connect more of the East Midlands region to the planned HS2 high-speed rail project.

Part of a 25-year masterplan designed to “revolutionise” transport across the East Midlands, the plans include a GBP150m proposal to allow four trains/hour linking Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Derby with the new HS2 terminal at Toton, and extending the Nottingham Express Transit light rail system from Long Eaton to Toton Lane.

A new East Midlands Airport railway station would allow journey times to Loughborough of nine minutes and to Leicester in 15 minutes. Current public transport provision to the airport includes buses and the East Midlands Parkway railway station on the Midlands Mainline a few miles away, which is poorly used.

The proposals tie in with the East Midlands Development Corporation’s plans to support 84,000 ‘high-value’ jobs and 4500 homes at key sites close to the new Toton HS2 station, including East Midlands Airport, the former Chetwynd Barracks and Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station.

Sir John Peace, Chair of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine, said: “The arrival of HS2 is a watershed moment for our region, and an opportunity that we must grasp with both hands.

“As we work towards an economic renewal post-COVID-19, the East Midlands must step forward and work together to secure the transport network, economic future and social mobility it deserves.

“This truly integrated transport strategy isn’t just about connecting more people to the HS2 station; it will also support the building of new homes, accelerate transformational regeneration and link some of our most deprived communities to nationally-important assets across the East Midlands.

“Our message to Westminster is clear; support us in making this vision a reality.”

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TICKETING: AERTiCKET has agreed a partnership with Amadeus that gives it access to the Amadeus Rail Platform, allowing customers to book domestic and international rail travel alongside flights.

Using AERTiCKET’s Cockpit application, travel agents will be able to access services from nine European rail operators: ÖBB in Austria, Deutsche Bahn in Germany, Trenitalia and open access business NTV in Italy, SJ in Sweden, Renfe in Spain, Vy (formerly NSB) in Norway, SNCF in France and SBB in Switzerland.

AERTiCKET already had direct agreements with various rail operators, but the company was keen to have “an even wider and more comprehensive portfolio”.

Mirja Sickel, Amadeus’ Executive Vice President of Rail and Ground Travel, said that “more and more, travelling by train has become a preferred mode of transport for journeys up to 300km. We’re confident our partnership with AERTiCKET will give its customers the richest range of content, which will be pivotal while we navigate today’s challenging environment and prepare for the future.”